How China’s ‘Coke Boy’ became the real thing 10 years after surviving deadly Sichuan earthquake

Survivor of 2008 disaster who told rescuers ‘I want a cold coke’ after being pulled from rubble is now working for soft drinks giant

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 2:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 2:51pm

A survivor of the Sichuan earthquake, who became famous for asking for a cold Coca-Cola after being rescued, is working for the soft drinks giant a decade on from the tragedy, a local newspaper has reported.

Xue Hao was 18 when he spent 80 hours trapped in the rubble after the devastating earthquake that struck southwestern China killing more than 69,000 people in May 2008.

His first words after being rescued – “I need to drink a cold Coca-Cola” – became famous as a small beacon of light amid the darkness and he became known as “Coke Boy” or the “boy who made China smile”.

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At the time he was studying at a school in Mianzhu city when the earthquake struck. It later emerged that his girlfriend had been killed in the disaster and his parents were forced to move to another home.

A decade on from the tragedy, the 28-year-old is working for the company in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu Business News reported.

“After I was rescued I was busy with medical treatment and hadn’t looked at the news. Only when a reporter came to interview me did I learn about ‘Coke Boy’,” he told the newspaper.

After graduating from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2013, Hao interned at Coca-Cola, the report said, before returning to Chengdu.

“I escaped by the skin of my teeth and overcame the difficulties of such a large earthquake,” said Hao, who had his right arm amputated after the quake. “What can’t I get through now?”

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Since 2016, he has been in charge of welcoming visitors at the company’s museum in the city’s northern Xindu District.

There are only two other Coca-Cola museums in the world – one in Shanghai and another in the company’s hometown of Atlanta.

Hao said his co-workers “may have been surprised to learn I was ‘Coke Boy’, but now I am just an ordinary colleague”.